Campaigners have filmed shocking footage of a Red deer stag being hunted by the Quantock Stag Hounds in Somerset on Thursday 25 October 2018.
The hunt took place about ten miles from Taunton near the picturesque West Somerset Railway line at Crowcombe Heathfield and lasted for three hours.
A combination of horse riders, dogs and four wheel drive vehicles were used to harass and harry the stag through woods for nearly two hours, eventually forcing him out into the open and on his own.
At this stage film clearly shows his mouth gasping and tongue lolling. There is a heaviness to his gait.
About an hour later two hounds, which had been set to follow the stag by scent, had chased him to exhaustion. He lay down behind a tree in some undergrowth. The hounds barked incessantly at him, rushing forwards and jumping back as the desperate stag used his antlers to keep them from attacking.
When gunmen from the Quantock Stag Hounds get within close range the stag jumps up and makes a final dash for freedom. The hounds give chase and five minutes later, away from cameras, the stag is killed.
Hunt followers and riders then gather in the woods for the traditional carve-up, where the body is divided into trophies for people to take away and remember their day.
Many people think that stag hunting was banned when the Hunting Act (2004) made chasing and killing most wild mammals with dogs illegal. But it hasn’t quite worked out like that. Stag hunters in the West Country have reinvented their bloodsport with subtle differences which allow them to exploit loopholes and circumvent the law, including;
- Claiming to be conducting Research & Observation, in the same way as Japanese and other whaling nations carry on killing under the pretence of scientific research.
- Flushing to guns. The Hunting Act (2004) provides for this, so long as only two hounds are used and the stag is shot as soon as possible.
The National Trust banned stag hunting in 1997 after Professor Patrick Bateson published a report which found that hunting deer with hounds inflicted cruelty and distress far beyond anything they might experience in nature.
Stag hunting was prohibited on Forestry Commission land in 1997 too.
Campaigners have documented numerous incidents of trespass by the Quantock Stag Hounds on National Trust and Forestry Commission land during September and October 2018.
The Quantock Stag Hounds hunt deer with dogs Mondays and Thursdays throughout September to April.